Friday, October 28, 2011

Meltingpot Book Review: Maman's Homesick Pie

Hello Meltingpot Readers,

How many Persian memoirs have you read? What's your favorite Persian food? Besides the horrific headlines about nuclear threats and repressive regimes, what do you know about Iranian culture and history? If you're anything like me, you may have no solid answers to these questions. And like me, maybe you would never have cause to investigate. Well, by chance I was sent a copy of this delicious little memoir called, Maman's Homesick Pie: A Persian Heart in an American Kitchen and now my appetite for Persian culture has been thoroughly piqued.

Maman's Homesick Pie by celebrated chef, Donia Bijan definitely falls under the category of food memoir where a life story is told in prose and recipes. And since Bijan is a chef, the recipes are perfectly chosen to both inspire one to head into the kitchen as well as further illustrate her journey from pampered Persian teen, to immigrant in America, to student chef in Paris. And while we get to see how Bijan, the youngest of three sisters, came to be the rock star chef that she is today, the book really is an ode to Bijan's mother.

I really enjoyed reading about Bijan's life journey, especially her love affair with food, but honestly her mother's life story is far more interesting. Sent to England for nursing school at 18, Bijan's mother was a woman ahead of her time who worked as a nurse, raised her three daughters and ran for and was elected into Parliament. When the family was forced into exile in the United States, while her husband sank into a depression, she jumped right into her new life, never looking back.

But still, this is Bijan's story and she tells it well, keeping sight of the fact that this is a foodie memoir. Besides the recipes, there are wonderful descriptions of the meals she ate prepared by her mother's loving hands in Iran, the food markets she wandered through in Paris, and even the rushed staff dinners at the restaurants where she learned her craft. It's enough to make any reader want to lick the pages. What's more, Bijan is  truly a talented writer. The book is engaging and sweet and reads really well. For a first-time author I am truly impressed. I hope Bijan continues to write and considers a true memoir about her mother who sadly, met with a tragic demise. Her story deserves to be written.

The Meltingpot gives Maman's Homesick Pie, two big thumbs up.


No comments: